10 year anniversary of Ringleader Of The Tormentors

Jamie

Bluff, Ardour & Assoc.
Toni Visconti didn't master the album, that was done by someone called Emily Lazar. The studio mix and the mastering process are two different things. At this remove, and without anyone being able to hear the final studio mix that Visconti delivered, it's impossible to tell exactly where the fault lays - but ramping up the volume and crushing everything with compression is usually something that occurs at the mastering stage. The vinyl may well be a different master. It's a while since I've listened to it on LP - I'll have to dig it up and give it a whirl.

Indeed. This is actually the source of a great many threads at the informative Steve Hoffman Forums (www.stevehoffman.tv), generally complaining that -x- mastering engineer has ruined -album y- by -z-. I'm not as "aurally sensitive" to so-called "brickwalling" other than noticing that the base volume of mastered recordings seems to get louder and louder as the years go on.

I had a conversation with another fan years ago to the effect that they thought ROTT was mastered for vinyl, but I never got a copy. That would be doubly interesting if there actually variances in the mixes - it could certainly change the overall presentation of the songs. I'd be curious to hear about your findings after you listen.

Also on the topic of the mix, I knew someone who was in close contact with Alain in the Red Lightning/ROTT era and he was apparently "gutted" at the final mix of the album. Given that his guitar playing is nigh-on inaudible or indistinguishable on most songs, I could see why, especially as he wrote the lion's share and contributed the emotional centerpieces ("Dear God Please Help Me," "Life Is A Pigsty").
 

Harsh Truth

Ever Felt Had?
I don't have much to add here about ROTT, other than to say with regard to the production/mastering of it, one thing I've always hated is on "The Youngest Was the Most Loved." When the police sirens at the beginning end and the song kicks in, it sounds so wimpy and muddled when I feel it should surge in like a lion. As it does in concert.

And "You have Killed Me"sounds like it was recorded underwater.

Is this making any sense? Does this have to do with the loudness thing?

Now, one thing I will say is that the 3-4 songs from ROTT that ended up on that crap Greatest Hits release sound a bit better. Were they mastered differently from the final TV mix?
 
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Nikita

Senior Member
I never understood the production bashing on ROTT, which is to my ears so better produced than You are the Quarry for instance - I dream to hear the latter "naked".
 

Ben Budd

Well-Known Member
I adore ROTT. My favourite post-comeback album. Pigsty is a near perfect piece, and it amuses me greatly how much Goddard hates it in Mozipaedia.
 

Cornflakes

"A bit iffy" ★★☆☆☆ - AV Club
I never understood the production bashing on ROTT, which is to my ears so better produced than You are the Quarry for instance - I dream to hear the latter "naked".

Agree. I think a lot of people don't understand the difference between production and mastering (no reason they should, really) and just assume the producer is responsible for everything about the way a record sounds.

The mastering problems on the CD are definitely not imaginary though.
 

Uncleskinny

It's all good
Subscriber
I remember driving down to an appointment in Thetford - a long drive - and I had the ROTT CD on all the time - I was determined to give it a chance. By the time I got back, I had the HMHB CD on instead. It's just not good songwriting. At all. The Father Who Must Be Killed is appallingly bad filler material. As is usual with Morrissey, some of the best stuff is left off the album through sheer pig-headedness.
 
H

Hod

Guest
Agree. I think a lot of people don't understand the difference between production and mastering (no reason they should, really) and just assume the producer is responsible for everything about the way a record sounds.

The mastering problems on the CD are definitely not imaginary though.

That's a good point about the difference between production and mastering - I've read plenty of explanations but I still don't think I know myself! Could you explain?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
That's a good point about the difference between production and mastering - I've read plenty of explanations but I still don't think I know myself! Could you explain?

When people talk about production, they are often referring to the actual recording process. The mix is the final stage of this process, where the multi-track recordings are mixed down into the final stereo mix, with all the desired levels, and effects on the recording etc. This is basically the main production stage in recording an album.

The mastering is basically the final process of preparing that mix into what is going to be pressed onto the CD or vinyl (and due to these formats being different, record companies who actually care about the finished product will often produce different masters for each medium). It's like the final gloss on the overall recording, it's at this stage the final volume levels are set, any compression or equalisation, etc. This is why all the Smiths and Morrissey 'remastered' album sound different when they are all working from the same final studio mix.

Unless you are directly comparing two different masters of the same album (like playing 'Vauxhall and I' original and remastered version back to back), most people are never going to notice the impact any final mastering process has. It's only when something goes majorly wrong - which appears to be what happened to ROTT by compressing everything to make it sound 'loud as f***', that it jumps out.

https://www.izotope.com/en/community/blog/tips-tutorials/2014/06/what-is-mastering/
 

Cornflakes

"A bit iffy" ★★☆☆☆ - AV Club
That's a good point about the difference between production and mastering - I've read plenty of explanations but I still don't think I know myself! Could you explain?

Production: Overseeing the recording by giving instructions to the musicians and engineers.

Mixing: Taking the various elements of music that have been recorded and sewing them together to make the finished tracks.

Mastering: Taking the tracks that have been mixed and transferring them to a "master" from which copies of the CD or record can be pressed. This isn't just like pressing play on one tape and record on the other. You also have to decide how loud the master should be and what EQ is going to sound best - sort of like operating a graphic equaliser on a 1980s stereo.

LPs sound better with more bass and less treble, because the record player will compensate by adding treble and taking away bass. What has happened with ROTT is that a master meant for LP has been used for the CD, which is why it sounds wrong.

In addition, the mastering is too loud, which makes it sound slightly muddy (although how serious this is shouldn't be overestimated - the difference is not dramatic).

It's possible that the two things are connected, because loud mastering for an LP will help to mask the surface noise of the vinyl, so it might be done for that reason.

If someone were to re-do the mastering, you could get a much better sounding CD.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I remember driving down to an appointment in Thetford - a long drive - and I had the ROTT CD on all the time - I was determined to give it a chance. By the time I got back, I had the HMHB CD on instead. It's just not good songwriting. At all. The Father Who Must Be Killed is appallingly bad filler material. As is usual with Morrissey, some of the best stuff is left off the album through sheer pig-headedness.

I remember walking from Hickstead to Twineham - a short walk down Hickstead Lane - and I had the ROTT tape in my walkman on all the time - I was determined to give it a chance. By the time I got to that pond I threw it in and put on The Lovely Eggs instead.
 

marred

Member
Never understood the hatred for On the streets I ran. The father who must be killed is a beautiful song!
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
'On the Streets' has one of Morrissey's worst vocal performances ever. He's straining throughout and can't hit the high notes. It sounds like he's about to lose his voice. I don't know why they didn't just drop the music down a bit.
 

marred

Member
I remember driving down to an appointment in Thetford - a long drive - and I had the ROTT CD on all the time - I was determined to give it a chance. By the time I got back, I had the HMHB CD on instead. It's just not good songwriting. At all. The Father Who Must Be Killed is appallingly bad filler material. As is usual with Morrissey, some of the best stuff is left off the album through sheer pig-headedness.

What is an HMHB cd? Am I the only one who doesn't know what this is? ROTT has some fantastic songwriting and is far superior to quarry.

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'On the Streets' has one of Morrissey's worst vocal performances ever. He's straining throughout and can't hit the high notes. It sounds like he's about to lose his voice. I don't know why they didn't just drop the music down a bit.

And that's what I love about it!
 
+1... While I don't always think those moments where he loses control of his voice are "technically" good, the sense that he's overcome to the point that his voice starts to fall apart are made that much more affecting because of it. Good music is as much about feeling as it is melody.

And ROTT is definitely underrated as a whole.
 

marred

Member
+1... While I don't always think those moments where he loses control of his voice are "technically" good, the sense that he's overcome to the point that his voice starts to fall apart are made that much more affecting because of it. Good music is as much about feeling as it is melody.

And ROTT is definitely underrated as a whole.

Agreed.

If you want perfect technical singing go listen to Adele.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I remember driving down to an appointment in Thetford - a long drive - and I had the ROTT CD on all the time - I was determined to give it a chance. By the time I got back, I had the HMHB CD on instead. It's just not good songwriting. At all. The Father Who Must Be Killed is appallingly bad filler material. As is usual with Morrissey, some of the best stuff is left off the album through sheer pig-headedness.

Of course you did, you're a professional Northerner.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I remember walking from Hickstead to Twineham - a short walk down Hickstead Lane - and I had the ROTT tape in my walkman on all the time - I was determined to give it a chance. By the time I got to that pond I threw it in and put on The Lovely Eggs instead.

Ringleader on tape?
 

Uncleskinny

It's all good
Subscriber
What is an HMHB cd? Am I the only one who doesn't know what this is? ROTT has some fantastic songwriting and is far superior to quarry.

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And that's what I love about it!


NICK f***ING KNOWLES
 
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